ST37 – “and Then What” – [Noiseville]

olmec   6/9/2011   12-inch, A Library

ST 37 comes from Austin, Texas. As the hippie movement wafted from SF to TX, it turned into something downright dirty. And Then What [Noiseville, 2006] brings the sludge, freakout, and semi-pop to an already bipolar genre of psych. Forget the hash oil, and smoke this Texas crude instead.

1: Drum, guitar, vocals. Stony lyrics and raga melody.
2: Eastern mysticism. Instrumental.
3: Overlapping vocals and psych guitar freakout. Mellows in the second half.
4: Poppy and upbeat, with proper psychedelic elements.
5: Holy shit ten minutes of frenetic insanity that gets even crazier over time.
6: Psych-punk reminiscent of The Stooges and Les Goths.
7: Sludgey and gripping guitar improv and distorted vocals. Maybe my favorite track on this LP.

Thanks to Jack Soil for picking up this excellent LP from the 4th Austin Psych Fest!

Vee Dee – “Vee Dee” – [Blvd Records]

olmec   6/9/2011   12-inch, A Library

Pissed-off mid-tempo garage psych punk blues reborn. Vee Dee is from Chicago and are influenced by (but not limited to) Los Dug Dugs, Parliament, and Black Sabbath. Listening to Vee Dee [BLVD Records, 2011] is like drinking beer and dropping acid. Within is unpretentious, hard-rocking guitar, drums, and vocals. This is solid, stomping music with a good range of sounds.

I liked tracks A1, A2, A4, and B1, but do thyself a favor and explore.

Moon Duo – “Mazes” – [Sacred Bones Records]

olmec   6/9/2011   12-inch, A Library

Recorded in their homebase San Francisco and moody krautrock-land Berlin, Moon Duo says Mazes [Sacred Bones Records, 2011] (tentatively titled “Die Blumen”) was going to be their “Berlin record”. Ultimately, however, Mazes retains Moon Duo’s signature psych-rock soundscape, with some nice strumbly pop stirred into the familiar mix of keyboards, electronic distortions, and everlasting two-chord guitar eruptions. No sad emotions here. Just rockin transcendent instrumentation and incantatory vocals. Moon Duo is Erik “Ripley” Johnson (of Wooden Shjips) and Sanae Yamada (his lady).
Highly recommended.

1. Seer: Upbeat psych-rock.
2. Mazes: Simple pop with a guitar solo tacked on.
3. Scars: German Dub in der haus. Ach ja.
4. Fallout: Radioactive guitar, tambourine, and indistinct vocals. Pop from the nuclear apocalpse.

5. When You Cut: Guitar, drums, clapping, vocals, and a dangerously addictive keyboard line.
6. Run Around: Maracas, guitar, and muttered vocals. Hippie psych! Real cool!
7. In The Sun: Simple psych-pop. Muddy vocals and decent guitar solos.
8. Goners: Longest track. Keeps it simple and delivers some kick ass guitar.

3 4 5 6

Alps, The – “Easy Action” – [Mexican Summer]

olmec   4/27/2011   A Library, CD

Easy Action [Mexican Summer, 2011] is album number six from The Alps, who describe their music as tropical, psychedelic easy listening. This is certainly the case. Sun-drenched, resin-coated strings, piano and static define Easy Action to be an album for mid-afternoon listening, ideally around 4:20 pm. Exotic influences combine with familiar Mendocino/SF stoner psych to send the listener on a nice world tour. This is a trip from the shores of California, to India, to Thailand, and back home again. I liked much of this album, but it became a little repetitive during a full listen-through. You won’t go wrong playing any one track, however.
I especially liked:
Spray (2): Cool drums, acoustic guitar plucking, and electric guitar jam sesh. Levels are perfect, each instrument balancing and tempering the others. Focus on one, or appreciate the track as a whole.
For Isabel (4): Spanish lounge music, with static keeping the song on its toes.
Loves of a Blonde (5): Genre-hopping, multisegmented piece. Sometimes piano takes center stage, sometimes Grails-esque drone comes into predominance. Sitar neatly wraps up this track.

Carlton Melton – “Country Ways” – [Mid-to-late Records]

olmec   4/6/2011   12-inch, A Library

Country Ways {Mid-To-Late Records, 2011} is improvised psych and lo-fi space rock from Carlton Melton. For what it’s worth, this comes from Mendocino. All instrumental. Lay on your back and let the clouds roll in.

1: A 20 minute slab of epic spaced-out strumming and gentle drums.
2: Thrumming guitar meets confident drums for Full Moon Revisted. A midnight ceremony of transcendence. 7:50
3: Solo wah guitar and quiet crickets. Very calm and cool. 5:30
4: Two guitars and minimal drumming. An ominous end to this LP. 6:50

Holy Sons – “Criminal’s Return” – [Important Records]

olmec   3/23/2011   A Library, CD

Holy Sons is the solo project of Emil Amos, drummer to Grails and Om. Criminal’s Return is Amos’ seventh solo release. Within is indie rock swirled by psych and tinged with despondence. It is very mellow, perhaps to a fault, but there are moments where the music takes off and brings you with it. When performing live, Holy Sons is Emil Amos, Bill Slater, Alex Hall (Grails), and Benny Nugent (Dolorean). This sounds like both these bands combined.

Picks are:
1: Quiet indie rock meets Pink Floyd.
2: Diverse and interesting instrumental.
4: Muttered vocals and guitar noodling.
10: Stoney and bluesy.

Expo 70 – “Blackout” – [Debacle Records]

olmec   3/9/2011   A Library, CD

Smoky drone saturates Blackout [Debacle Records, 2010]. Two live recordings of pulsing, clicking, incense-flavored psych. Ithaca, NY (1) is 31 minutes of minimal electronic feedback. Manhattan, NY (2) is a little more interesting. Analog and organic, textured and varied, it also runs 31 minutes. The duo blacked out performing at the New Market Hotel, hence the name “Blackout”.

Melvins – “Bride Screamed Murder, The” – [Ipecac Recordings]

olmec   3/9/2011   A Library, CD

Fast drumlines, chanting, and bells transmute the Melvins’ trademark sludge into something less viscous. Within is speed and dirge, and sudden changes of tempo and instrumentation. Military call-and-response of The Water Glass (1) tempers the eight other tracks of constructed and varied metal. This is compelling and driving music, powering ahead with the godlike and demonic cowbell of Evil New War God (2). The badassery continues: (4) and (5) are low and fast. It ends with P.G. x 3 (9), acapella then anthemic guitar, and brainwashed spoken word. The Bride Screamed Murder [Ipecac Recordings, 2010] is unusual, and it’s better for it.

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